For an overview of Stark Drive Electric Bike, its features and our story click above. Our passion for biking and our determination to take electric bikes mainstream have driven us to create the world’s most affordable electric bike. As technology improves, so will Stark Drive with the caveat that we will always offer the most affordable electric bikes in the world.
Glenn has over 15 years of experience building bicycle wheels and has worked for and with the local cycling community in the Philadelphia area for the past 20 years. Glenn is in charge of all wheel building activities at E-BikeKit and oversees quality control on wheels built in the Newportville, PA location. Since joining E-BikeKit in early 2010 Glenn has had a huge impact on the success of the company...
One of the primary purposes of an e-bike is transferring power from the motor to the drivetrain to "support" your regular pedal stroke. All of the different motors do this in relatively the same way, although subtle differences in their power output make them all feel slightly different. It is important to note that all of these systems work impressively well, the differences between them are relatively subtle but noticeable. We tested this metric primarily based on feel, as opposed to any sort of scientific measurement, and our testers could all notice the differences between the various models. All of the e-bikes we tested have several support modes offering varying levels of pedal assist support. The Commencal and Specialized models both offer three, the Trek has four, and the HaiBike has five levels of pedal assist support. All four models also have a walk-assist setting which provides up to 3.7 mph of support in the event you have to hike-a-bike to help you push these heavy bikes uphill.
The Brose motor puts out 250 watts nominally, and can peak up to a max of 460 watts. That’s around half what the 2016 Specialized Turbo S road bike we tested last year develops, but that bike’s much-larger motor sits in the rear hub, which would massively compromise performance on a full-suspension mountain bike like this one. Spend up to the Expert or S-Works spec Turbo Levo and you get a motor that can peak up to 530 watts.
Mountain bikes have come a long way since the 80s. Rock Shox showed up and eventually everyone had a hardtail bike. Then came dual-suspension bikes for all sorts of riding styles. My choice was a cross-country bike so I could climb fast and descend fast without the need for big air. Brakes have gone from simple calipers, to grippy Shimano V-Brakes, to bomber hydraulic disk brakes. While all this was going on street-focused eBikes were evolving too. It should be no shock that the technologies would merge to create eMTBs. A lot of people who were part of the mountain biking revolution in the 80s are getting older and eBikes allow them to continue the sport they love later in life. Whether it’s riders dealing with health issues or injuries, or simply just getting older, the emergence of eMTBs makes total sense.
The Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+ was the best climber of the bunch. The bike had a comfortable climbing position, with a slightly longer reach than the competition, but the highlight was the Shimano Steps E8000 motor. The Shimano motor's power band extends for just a moment after the pedals stop turning, providing the rider with just a little more push to get over obstacles or carry speed when you stop pedaling for a second. This extended power was brief, but it made a huge difference when tackling technical uphill sections or playfully ripping berms or over rocks on the climbs. While it was agile and quicker handling, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie lost ground in this rating metric due to the somewhat abrupt pedal assist cutoff that occurred the moment you stop pedaling. This abrupt power cutoff caused awkward moves in slower technical uphill sections when jockeying pedals to avoid rock strikes. The HaiBike didn't climb as well as the Commencal, but it undeniably had traction for days and a motor that also extended the power band slightly beyond the last pedal stroke. The Trek Powerfly had a long wheelbase, reach, and chainstay length, giving the bike a long rear end that kept impressive traction while climbing as long as you kept your momentum, the overall length of the bike, however, made it a little tougher to negotiate in the tighter stuff.
The time or distance an electric bike battery will run between chargings is impossible to judge with much accuracy. There are too many variables: terrain, speed, rider weight, bike load (shopping, kids, luggage), and more. However, we can make a few generalizations about an e-bike’s recharge time and overall working life. These generalizations should be used for comparison purposes only.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.